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Chancellor unveils development plan

By Nick Phillips; Dustin Porter
Editor; Managing Editor

February 23, 2012

Photo courtesy of UNCP
Chancellor Kyle Carter's Downtown Development Project would create a new, multi-use building in downtown Pembroke similar to the artist's rendering above.

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter unveiled the Downtown Development Project during the Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 17.

The next plan is to aquire the buildings needed to complete the project, Carter said.

When completed, the project will link the Town of Pembroke and UNCP closer together.

"We want students to have a place to go downtown where they will be able to study, gather and work," Chancellor Carter said.

The Downtown Development Project's plan is to use private funding to renovate side-by-side storefront buildings on Main Street in Pembroke and create a center that will combine business, commerce and student and community enterprise.

Having already applied for a grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation, the university is closing in on raising $225,000 from private donors to purchase the property.

"This is a transformative project," Chancellor Carter said. "And, no state funds will be used in this project."

This is a keynote to the project because if even one state dollar is used, UNCP would no longer be the sole owner of the property because it would belong to the state.

"I want it to be our property and a place where the town and students come together," Chancellor Carter said.

"It was very significant for us to find private funding so this could be our project," he added.

The main idea is to have a University presence in downtown Pembroke. The presence will be a 170,000 square-foot building housing UNCP's two business development centers: the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship.

"There has been ( a lot of) talk about Pembroke being a college town and I am not saying this will or will not help that cause, but I think UNCP owning and operating downtown business can only help in the long run," Chancellor Carter said.

"Besides a learning laboratory, two business assistance programs and a business incubator to assist small business start-ups, the center will build academic programs," said Dr. Cammie Hunt, associate vice chancellor for the Office of Engaged Outreach.

The project will be in the center of the downtown area, and Chancellor Carter hopes it will get more students involved in the Pembroke community.

"My vision is to have a building where businesses can get their start, students can study, show off their artistic abilities and relax in the town of Pembroke," Chancellor Carter said.

"This is a fundraiser's dream," Wendy Lowery, vice chancellor for the Office for Advancement said.

"There is great interest in our Downtown Development Project, but the time frame is tight," she added.

Chancellor Carter said the renovation costs would be approximately $1.6 million.

"I'd love for this to be a showcase for the town and the university," he said. "I see it as the start of something really positive."

SGA President and Student Trustee Brian McCormick raised the question of how the new project would benefit or affect UNCP students.

Chancellor Carter reinforced the fact that funds from student tuition or fees would not be used in the development project, adding that it will result in additional opportunities for students.

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Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2012
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